Australian Open 2017: Sania Mirza-Ivan Dodig go down in mixed doubles final
The Indo-Croatian pair succumbed to a straight sets defeat.
Sania was gunning for her 4th Grand Slam mixed doubles title, and her 7th one overall. On the other hand, Dodig was looking for his first mixed doubles Grand Slam trophy.
The pair started off slowly, going down 4-0 very early in the match, and were never really able to recover after that. They did show some fight in the 2nd set, opening up a 4-1 lead, but some error-prone tennis saw them lose five straight games to lose the set 6-4.
Spears and Cabal looked the better team throughout, enjoying every moment out there. That proved to be the difference, as Sania and Dodig looked to be under tremendous pressure from the word go, making errors that you wouldn't normally associate with them.
The pair of Ivan Dodig and Sania Mirza got off to a pretty shaky start. With both Dodig and Sania losing serve first up, they found themselves in a big hole at 4-0 down. They seemed to be getting into some rhythm, but it was all too late and the set was already gone. They eventually lost it 6-2.
With Dodig serving first, the pair quickly went down 0-30, thanks to a couple of brilliant points from Spears/Cabal. But he landed a couple of big first serves to pull it back to 30-30. However, he served a double fault to hand the opponents their first break point chance, which they gladly took, to lead 1-0.
Cabal then quickly held serve for 2-0, thanks to some strong serving. There were a few beautiful doubles points in there, with Spears and Cabal coming out on top on most occasions.
Sania begun her service game well, opening up a 30-0 lead, but Cabal and Spears showed great touch at the net to take the next four points to go up a double break in the set, leading 3-0.
Spears seemed to have a pretty heavy serve, not allowing Sania and Dodig any chance to make an impact on their returns. In no time, the Indo-Croatian pair found themselves down 4-0.
With the Croat conjuring up some rhythm on his serve, Mirza/Dodig finally opened their account, holding to trail 1-4.
But Cabal spoilt any hopes of a comeback, by holding to 15, racking up some rollicking pace on his serves. They led 5-1, just one game away from taking the first set.
Mirza found her serve under pressure again, being unable to earn any free points on it at all. But with the help of her huge forehand, she managed to save a set point and hold serve to reduce the deficit to 5-2.
With Dodig finding empty spaces on the court beautifully with his forehand, the Indo-Croatian pair earned two break points for themselves. But with Sania still struggling with her groundstrokes, they couldn't convert any. And as a result, lost the set 6-2.
The pair of Mirza/Dodig started playing with newfound confidence in the 2nd set, carrying over the momentum they had built up in the last few games of the first set. But they gave it away after having built a 4-1 lead.
The set began with a sumptuous doubles point, with Spears finishing the point by putting away a beautiful volley into the open court. That set the tone for the American-Colombian pair as they set up two break points for themselves on the Dodig serve. But the Croat was up to the task this time, serving an ace and another huge first serve to hold for a 1-0 lead.
It was the first time that Mirza and Dodig were ahead on the scoreboard in the entire match. The confidence rubbed off on their return games as well, as they hit freely to put the Cabal serve under tremendous pressure, earning a break point on his serve for the first time in the match. On break point, a blistering forehand return by Dodig drew the error from the Spears racquet at the net, opening up a 2-0 lead.
Suddenly, Mirza was serving big too, with Dodig pouncing on weak returns at the net, putting away easy volleys. The Indian held to 15 to extend their lead to 3-0.
Dodig's confidence rubbed off on Mirza’s return game as well, as she seemed to be smacking the returns that she's famous for. Despite that, Spears stayed strong to hold for 1-3.
Another strong service game by Dodig ensured a 4-1 lead. And Cabal returned the favour with a strong hold as well to make it 4-2.
A few pedestrian errors from Mirza on her service game, though, including a double fault, saw her serve being broken to 15. Spears took care of her serve to level things up at 4-4.
Dodig's serve absolutely deserted him in the next game. He served three double faults to have his serve broken, allowing Cabal to serve for the championship.
The Colombian did that without a hiccup, ending Mirza and Dodig's dreams of claiming the trophy.